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Possessive Noun

Term Definition
Possessive Noun

Nouns are usually made possessive by adding an apostrophe and s: “The bicycle is Sue's, not Mark's.” Possessive pronouns can take the place of possessive nouns: “The bicycle is hers, not his.” 

Taking ownership using possessive nouns

A possessive noun is simply a noun that has an apostrophe and an -s added at the end of it in order to indicate that the noun owns something. For example, when you talk about a man's car, "man's" is actually a possessive noun. 

It is really as simple as that. Whenever you encounter a noun with an -'s at the end of it, you're in the presence of a possessive noun. 

Using the term correctly

For your reference, here is an example of the possessive noun being used in a correct way

"The man thought that his neighbor's dogs were actually some of the gentlest creatures he'd ever seen, despite their somewhat menacing appearance." 

In this sentence, "neighbor's" is a correctly used possessive noun. 

Now, here is an example of the incorrect use of the possessive noun.

"Stereotypically, it is often said that Europeans look down upon Americans tendency toward brashness and arrogance."

In this sentence, the correct possessive noun form of Americans would be Americans'. 

Here are a couple rules you can follow in order to make sure that you are making appropriate use of the possessive noun in your academic writing. 

  1. The possessive noun is always used to indicate a relation of ownership (in the grammatical sense). For example, you can use it to talk about a person's mother, an object's color, a personality's traits, and so on. This is a common feature of the English language. 
  2. One thing to keep in mind is that when the possessive noun is in a plural form that ends with an -s, then the correct formation is to put the apostrophe after the plural -s. Another -s is generally not added after the apostrophe for the sake of indicating possessiveness.   

Plural nouns are a basic function in English

The possessive noun allows for a language user to articulate some of the most basic relations in the world. Aside from conveying ownership in the narrow economic or legal sense, the possessive noun also lets one describe the properties of a given object.

For example, you could talk not only about a particular student in the classroom but also about that student's grades or that student's fashion sense. In both of these examples, "student's" would be a possessive noun. More generally, the possessive noun allows one to establish relations between one given noun and another given noun: by indicating that a given person is his friend, the language user makes a statement about the nature of the relationship between two discrete objects. 

In some languages, it is not possible to write the English form of the possessive noun. In Spanish, for example, there is actually no apostrophe; so, in order to talk about your friend's car, you would need to write, "the car of my friend."

This sounds somewhat awkward in English, since such a formulation seems convoluted when one could simply use the possessive noun form. In languages where this form is unavailable, though, the more extended formulation likely sounds just as natural as the possessive noun form sounds to the native English speaker. 

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Synonyms: possessive-noun

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